Guest Opinion: Communication and flexibility key as school reopening target date nears
I have been so grateful for the outpouring of communication from all stakeholders since the School District announced its plan for reopening schools.
Families have four options:
n Full time, face-to-face instruction.
n Lee Home Connect — live, synchronous virtual instruction.
n Lee Virtual School — module based, self-paced virtual instruction.
Hundreds of families and District employees have asked questions about safety measures, working conditions, the specifics of the educational options, training, pay, budgeting, contact tracing, quarantine requirements, and classroom or school closures. Our community is to be commended for its positive, thoughtful participation in this process.
Rest assured that the District is hard at work, rolling out a communication plan that will address these questions and concerns. Short videos, Facebook live events, one pagers, podcasts, and radio communications are just a few of the mediums that will be used to disseminate information.
A central theme will be agility, which will be the primary focus of all considerations for reopening schools. We will continue to work closely with Lee Health and the Lee County Department of Health. The District is continuously communicating with them, discussing the impact of changing COVID-19 conditions so that we can make the safest decisions.
At the same time, agility is key to reopening successfully. We must ensure that we have the appropriate safety measures, equipment, and supplies in place; that teachers and staff are properly trained; and that parents and students are properly prepared for whichever educational option they choose. This will take time.
Although we are confident that we can complete this by our scheduled Aug. 10 opening, we are also flexible enough to recognize that the opening date may be pushed back. Staff is working on alternative plans to push back our reopening date, in the event that becomes necessary.
Unexpected contingencies have become a way of life. We experience them every day in our homes, at our jobs and in our lives. Something new seems to come our way every day that requires us to change the way we shop or travel or go to church. Returning to school will require the same types of adjustments.
Whether you choose face-to-face or Lee Home Connect, teaching and learning will be different this school year. Whether you ride the bus or join the parent pickup line, school will not be the same. One thing is quite certain, though. The District will provide safe, rigorous, comprehensive educational programs to our students. Together, with our community’s support and participation, we will have a great, albeit different, school year.
Chris N. Patricca is a member of the Lee County School Board. She represents District 3.